FOREIGN OFFICE Minister Sir Alan Duncan joined the chorus of disapproval following the execution of 37 prisoners in Saudi Arabia.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, April 24, Sir Vince Cable asked the Government to make a statement on the executions which took place the previous day.
Amnesty International has condemned the executions, which included the killing of a man who was under 18 at the time of his arrest, in contravention of international law.
The Middle East research Director of Amnesty International, Lynn Maalouf called it “another gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent from within the country’s Shi’a minority”.
The humanitarian organisation, which opposes capital punishment, say that the executions followed torture, unjust trials and forced confessions.
The Saudi authorities are thought to have executed 104 people so far in 2019.
Those executed yesterday were charged with terrorism offences. One man was crucified. Another had his headless body displayed in public.
Responding to the urgent question, Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Sir Alan Duncan said: “We are very concerned by the executions of 37 men in Saudi Arabia and the Foreign Office is working to establish the full facts.
“The UK Government opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and in every country, including Saudi Arabia. We regularly raise human rights concerns, including the use of the death penalty, at the highest levels with the Saudi Arabian authorities.”
In response, Sir Vince Cable said: “We are in urgent need of a reappraisal of our relationship with Saudi Arabia given the fact that the continued mediaeval barbarism of the regime does not constitute the basis for a friendly alliance and indeed makes it an enemy of our values and our human rights.”
The UK Government encourages arms sales to the Saudi kingdom and trains members of the country’s security services in this country. Saudi Arabia is engaged in a war of attrition with neighbouring Yemen, for which it has attracted widespread condemnation for targeting Yemeni civilians.
The MP for Leeds North East, Fabian Hamilton said: “Publicly pinning one of the headless bodies to a pole as a warning is not only disturbingly barbaric and medieval in nature, but an abhorrent violation of human rights.
“According to the families of those executed, there was no prior notice that the executions would be carried out. That is a blatant flouting of international standards set out by even the most brutal of regimes that still use the death penalty.
“We know that some, if not all, of those executed, were convicted in Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court, which has been widely condemned by human rights groups as secretive, and which has in the past been used to try human rights activists, whom the state often wrongly regards as terrorists.
“We also know that at least three of those executed were juveniles—a clear violation of international law, which the Saudi regime appears to care very little about.
“Abdulkarim al-Hawaj was charged with participating in demonstrations, incitement via social media and preparing banners with anti-state slogans. Reports from human rights watchdogs in the country claim that he was beaten and the so-called confessions extracted from him through various means of torture.
“Mujtaba al-Sweikat was a student about to begin his studies at Western Michigan University when he was arrested at King Fahd airport, beaten and so-called confessions extracted through torture.
“Salman Qureish was just 18 when he was executed, but he was convicted of crimes that allegedly took place when he was still a child. The UN has condemned his sentencing and the use of the death penalty against him after he was denied basic legal rights, such as access to a lawyer.”
Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards said: “The vast majority of those executed yesterday were Shi’a Muslims. To what degree do the British Government consider that the Saudi regime is using the death penalty as a means of quashing dissent among a persecuted religious minority within its borders?”
Sir Alan Duncan replied: “I do not think that this is the moment for me to give an extended thesis on such matters, but I understand the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion. In many parts of the Middle East, the Sunni-Shi’a conflict is very intensive and creates enormous tension, difficulty and strife.”
Living Wage Week highlighted during Kidwelly launch
Plaid Cymru Mid and West AM, Helen Mary Jones visited Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire to launch Living Wage Week locally.
PPLAID CYMRU Mid and West AM, Helen Mary Jones visited Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire to launch Living Wage Week locally.
The company is a champion of the Living Wage movement in Carmarthenshire, and the visit emphasised the importance of employers adopting the Living Wage for their workers.
Speaking at the launch Helen Mary Jones AM said:
“A big thank you to Burns Pet Food for hosting the Living Wage Celebration in west Wales. It’s very fitting that we are here today in the headquarters of this pioneering company that was established to provide a much-needed focus on nutrition, health and natural ingredients in animal food. Animal welfare is at the heart of everything for the firm. Their ethical emphasis also extends to the Burns workforce.
“The organisation is the first champion of the Living Wage Movement in Carmarthenshire; what a privilege and a responsibility that brings and one that John Burns and his staff have taken on board with energy and commitment.
“Everyone here at Burns is a passionate advocate for paying a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and we are delighted they hosted the event to help encourage and inspire as many employers in the region as possible to take up the mantle and follow their excellent example.
“Living Wage Week is about celebrating our Living Wage Employers – thanking them for making such a difference in people’s lives. It’s also about helping our friends and colleagues in other organisations who are also in favour of fair pay and want to learn as much as possible about what it means to become accredited Living Wage Employers.”
In addition to the advocation of the Living Wage implementation across Wales, Helen Mary Jones AM congratulated the 224 Living Wage accredited employers and celebrated the achievement in a statement of opinion in the Senedd. The statement has been signed by Labour and Plaid Cymru members.
Burns Pet Food in Kidwelly kicked started the celebrations of The Living Wage Week, which runs from 11th November to 17th November 2019.
Carmarthenshire residents urged to use their vote
RESIDENTS in Carmarthenshire are being encouraged to use their vote in the General Election being held on December 12, 2019.
Those who are yet to register to vote have until midnight on Tuesday, November 26, to sign up or lose the opportunity to have their say in the forthcoming election.
Acting Returning Officer for Carmarthenshire, Wendy Walters, is urging everyone to exercise their democratic right.
In particular, a call is being made to young people as Electoral Commission statistics show almost a third of 18-34 year olds are not registered to vote.
Those who have recently moved house are also being reminded to register to vote at their new address, with Electoral Commission data showing that only 36 per cent of those who have moved in the last year have re-registered with their new details.
“You can’t vote unless you’re registered to do so,” she said. “It’s vitally important that everyone has the opportunity to have their say in this General Election. It is quick and easy to register, and as always our electoral services team is on hand to help anyone in need.”
Information about the General Election, details about how to register, how to apply for a postal or proxy vote, a list of Carmarthenshire polling stations, and more, can be found online at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/generalelection2019
Further advise can be sought if needed from the Electoral Services Unit on 01267 228889.
Follow Carmarthenshire County Council on Facebook and Twitter for information updates in the run up to the election, and for results as they are announced.
Free advice drop-in on EU Settlement Scheme
FREE advice about the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme is being made available to EU citizens in Carmarthenshire.
A mobile team from Newfields Law, who provide a specialist immigration advisory service, will be on hand at a drop-in event in Carmarthen Library on Monday November 11 from 2pm to 5pm.
The UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme means EU citizens and their families have to apply to secure their rights to continue living and working in the UK.
Free online applications have to be made by December 31, 2020, in the event a no-deal Brexit.
If a Brexit deal is agreed, the application deadline will be extended to June 30, 2021.
At the drop-in event in Carmarthen Library on St Peter’s Street, experts from Newfields Law will advise on eligibility for settled and pre-settled status, and documents needed to support applications.
Members of the team will also be available to discuss any post-application queries people may have, including questions raised by the Home Office.
Cllr Emlyn Dole, Carmarthenshire County Council Leader, said: “Statistics show there are about 7,000 EU nationals living or working in Carmarthenshire.
“As a council, we hugely value their contribution to the county – not just economically, but for their role in boosting Carmarthenshire’s cultural diversity.
“That’s why we’d encourage all EU nationals living and working here to apply to this UK Government scheme as soon as possible to ensure their rights are protected after the UK leaves the European Union.”
Carmarthenshire County Council will also soon be providing an assisted digital service at its customer service Hwbs in Carmarthen, Llanelli and Ammanford to help EU nationals with their applications, if needed.
This service will include equipment to scan biometric documents like passports and national ID cards.
Visit www.eusswales.com for more information about the EU Settlement Scheme and details on further advice and support.
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